CLEMSON — With two-thirds of his second season guiding Clemson’s offense behind him, Chad Morris is still installing his hurry-up, no-huddle system. Morris said Monday that he has about 85 percent of the system installed.
As the Tigers prepare for what they hope is a November worth remembering, Morris feels his team is far more ready for the stretch run. A year ago, Clemson won only two of its last six games and committed 16 turnovers while forcing six.
“I think they’re playing with a lot more confidence. I think the chemistry is really sound,” Morris said. “There’s some production levels at certain positions that haven’t produced like they did last year, and that’s OK. Other positions have produced more. That’s always good to see, other guys stepping in, watching your quarterback, talking about Tajh (Boyd), being a part of the run game and him being able to grow up in this thing over the last seven, eight weeks, seeing him mature.
“I feel like we’re starting that gradual rise over the next four weeks, that peak, and that’s a good indication. We’re further involved in our offense than we were a year ago at this time. A year ago, everything I was putting in was brand new to them. Now we’re saying, OK, it all flows together. There are some concepts that work together. Now let’s remember this, let’s add the addition to it.”
Morris is unhappy with the production of the offensive line: the Tigers are 14th nationally in total offense, 10th in scoring offense and 12th in passing offense, but only 45th in rushing offense; Thursday, they piled up 101 yards rushing.
“I thought we definitely could have played a lot better,” Morris said. “I was disappointed we were unable to get any run game going. (Wake) had some extra guys in the box, but so what. We need to be able to establish some run game. I took some pressure off those guys with throwing the ball, and we’re going to do what we have to do to be successful. Even though there were times when they didn’t have the extra hats in the box, we still weren’t knocking them off the ball like we need to.
“And we’ve got to get that going. I can promise you, that’s one thing we’re going to work on and continue to work on. It’s like a broken record, we work on it every week. But until we can get the competition we need to get to push those guys up front, it’s going to be the same. I’m going to be saying this next week, too. We’re not there yet. We don’t have the competition to push guys. We’ve got them at the skill position, we can push guys at the skill positions, but we don’t have the competition we need to have.”
That problem, he said, is more one of youth.
“We’ve got good young guys but they’re just not there yet,” he said. “It doesn’t mean something’s wrong with them. It doesn’t mean something’s wrong with the guys we’ve got. But as a coach, you can only push them so hard. You can only get on them so long until at some point and time you’ve got to be able to pull their job and make some moves. There were some bright spots, but we do have to knock them off the ball a little more.”
That said, Morris is pleased with his offense’s direction entering the final month.
“With our open week, playing a Thursday night game and give another day off for our players, it’s going to bring us mentally (better) for these final four weeks that you’re after,” he said. “We talk all the time, November’s a time to remember. You’re going to be remembered for what you do in November. We’re going to preach that. You maintain your focus for the final 26-27 days and get this done.”
Six-day hold for Clemson-Maryland: ESPN and the ACC announced Monday that Clemson’s Nov.10 home date with Maryland has been placed on a six-day hold, with the kickoff time and TV network announced Sunday. Notre Dame-Boston College, Georgia Tech-North Carolina, Miami-Virginia and Wake Forest-N.C. State are the other ACC games on the hold. Boston College-Notre Dame will be a noon or 8 p.m. kick, with the other games’ kickoff times open.
Boyd, Watkins ACC Players of the week: Boyd and sophomore wideout Sammy Watkins received recognition for their big nights in Clemson’s 42-13 rout of Wake Forest. Boyd was named the ACC’s offensive back of the week, and Watkins was named the league’s wide receiver of the week. Boyd threw for a Clemson single-game record 428 yards, throwing five touchdowns to five different receivers. Watkins set a Clemson single-game record with 202 receiving yards and a touchdown on eight receptions. He doubled his season receiving yardage total through seven games; Watkins was slowed by a two-game suspension to open the season and an abdominal virus that kept him out of the Boston College win.
“I think he really beared down on himself last week,” Morris said of Watkins. “We really beared down on him but it was more himself taking note and just bearing down on himself. We’re very proud of the game he had. But we’ve all come to expect that every game out of him. When that doesn’t happen, everyone wants to know, what’s wrong with Sammy? When you know it’s just a matter of time before he breaks out. I said it a few weeks ago, I think he’s going to do it at the right time when this team needs him the most.”